After the draft on Saturday, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst stated that the team wouldn’t close the door on a potential return of kicker Mason Crosby or safety Adrian Amos, who saw players drafted at their positions. Crosby and Amos, along with tight end Marcedes Lewis, are the Packers’ remaining 2022 starters who are still on the free-agent market, as it stands today.
Based on the team’s actions, Gutekunst was sincere with that statement. On Monday, the Packers not only announced the numbers that their 2023 NFL Draft class will wear, but the team also named their 12-man undrafted rookie class and the numbers assigned to those players. With the roster sitting at 88 players, the numbers of Lewis (#89), Amos (#31) and Crosby (#2) remained unassigned.
Now, decisions will have to be made. According to cap expert Ken Ingalls, the Packers are at -$1 million in effective cap space, even after a projected Rashan Gary extension. In all likelihood, this group of veterans would have to take something close to the league minimum or the veteran salary benefit to re-sign with the team in 2023. The veteran salary benefit allows older players, who have been on the roster for four or more seasons, to make slightly more money on a one-year deal than is accounted for on the salary cap.
From what I’ve been told by sources, Lewis, the one player that Gutekunst didn’t get asked about in his post-draft presser, is open to returning to the Packers this year — or at least was before the draft — and doesn’t seem interested in joining Aaron Rodgers in New York. The reason isn’t a personal rift with Rodgers, but the tax rate in New York/New Jersey. This is why reported interest from the Las Vegas Raiders, who play in an income-tax-less Nevada, is significant.
Whether or not these players re-sign with the team after the draft the Packers had still looms as an unanswered question, though. Green Bay drafted tight ends Luke Mugrave (second round) and Tucker Kraft (third round) on Day 3, which makes playing time tougher for Lewis moving forward. The Packers were one of three teams to take a kicker in the draft (Anders Carlson, fifth round), which means that Crosby would likely have to compete for a roster spot in 2023. Safety is fairly open, per our 53-man roster projection, as Green Bay didn’t address the position until the seventh round (Anthony Johnson Jr.)
If I were to place a guess today, Amos is the most likely player to return to the Packers, as he still has a chance to be an every-down starter for the team. Stay tuned, as Green Bay will host their rookie minicamp soon, which usually concludes with the team signing at least one tryout player to the roster. With the draft now in the rearview, these veteran players have more clarity on how the league’s rosters will be set going into 2023. Decisions will likely be made fairly soon.